Lenoir City Embroiled in a New State-Religion Issue

Mar 27, 2012

LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (AP) — Officials of Lenoir City say a patch that includes the word "religion" will remain on police uniforms.

Mayor Tony Aikens says he told a large crowd at a city council meeting last night the city will not yield to the Freedom from Religion Foundation's demand that the patch no longer be displayed.

Lenoir City Police shirts and jackets display a triangular shoulder patch with the words "education," ''religion" and "industry."

The Wisconsin based secular organization says the patches violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The foundation has threatened legal action to prevent continued display of the patches.

Aikens says the council voted unanimously last night to send the group a letter stating that the patch does not mean the city discriminates against any religious faith.

"If you dial 9-1-1, we're not going to ask what religion you belong to, we're going to respond and we're going to do our best to protect that citizen regardless. So, that's our position and we're certainly...we feel like we're in the right."

Aikens says the patch isn’t a recent addition. It’s appeared on police uniforms for many years.